Country Throwback: Reba McEntire Gives Stirring Speech After Success at 1986 ACM Awards

by Chris Haney
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In this Country Throwback, country star Reba McEntire takes home the ACM’s “Top Female Vocalist” award in 1986, and proceeds to give an emotional acceptance speech.

In 1986, the ACM Awards celebrated their 21st annual awards show. Fellow country artists Ronnie Milsap and Gary Morris presented the nominees for “Top Female Vocalist” that year. Before announcing the winner, the two shared a laugh with the crowd with Milsap telling Morris he had the academy write the winner’s name in brail for him to read.

Milsap, a blind country artist, found it amusing that Morris couldn’t read the card, and helped him out before announcing McEntire as the award winner.

As McEntire received the award on stage, she stepped up to the mic and gave a heartfelt speech. She emphasized that all the hard work as she entered the music business was worth it.

“People ask me, is this all worth it?” McEntire said of her music career. “When you got friends like Red Steagall, and Bill Carter, and Kathy Woods. And a fine recording company like MCA, and a husband like Charlie Battles, and a momma and daddy and family like I got. I’ve met so many people in this business that I love. And I appreciate the Academy of Country Music very much, and having the faith in me to get do what I’ve done tonight. Yea, it’s worth it. It sure is. Thank ya’ll very much.”

McEntire Left the Rodeo to Pursue a Music Career

During a recent interview with fellow singer Cody Johnson, the two discussed their collaboration on the song “Dear Rodeo.” In addition, McEntire talked about growing up as a rodeo cowgirl before leaving to become a musician.

“It took me to the ’70s when I realized that my rodeo career was going absolutely nowhere,” McEntire explained. “That I did have a God-given talent that I need to be using it. Daddy used to always say, ‘Reba why do you want to do something that you can’t do? Why do you always want to do things you’re not good at?'”

McEntire said her dad’s comments came from a place of love. Additionally, she repeated that music is her “God-given gift” and that she knows that’s what she’s supposed to be doing in life.

“I know he was triggering me tryin’ to get back my music. My God-given gift. And so it was kind of like a reminder that it’s going to be ok. That if you do leave rodeo for the music, you’re going to be ok. I’m going to miss it,” McEntire said.

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